Posts Tagged ‘Health’

Navratri is the season of fasting, feasting and footslogging that often ends with health related issues, nine ‘fast’ tips to avoid them
Navratri literally means ‘nine nights’ in Sanskrit; nava meaning nine and ratri meaning nights. It is that time of the year when apart from the dancing and festivities, most people observe fasts. Fasts have become a means of internal cleansing, physically and spiritually.
Most people fast with an aim of reducing fats and losing weight. But in the process, healthy food takes a backseat. Instead of real fasting, most of us end up feasting on high-calorie food in these nine days. On the other hand, it is very necessary not to feel weak or drained and gain energy for dancing away the nights.
An intake of healthy, dietary pattern can really help in rejuvenating the body, mind and soul during the fasting days of Navratri. Here are nine things to be kept in mind for the nine-night festival:

Go liquid: Consume lots of juices, coconut water, vegetable soups and of course water! This helps in cleaning the body toxins.

Milk and Fruits, complete food: These not only act as a cleansing agent for the body but also lend immense energy.

Eat less but frequently: Feed your stomach at regular intervals. Empty stomach leads to acidity and heartburn. Cold milk, cream, curd and bananas are effective antidotes for acidity.

No to ‘No Salt’ fasts: Most people follow a ‘no salt’ fast during Navratri. This leads to fatigue and weakness. Make up by having one meal with salt or use rock salt (sendha namak).

Keep aside the frying pan: Avoid the intake of fried, oily and heavy food. They defeat the very purpose of fasting. Instead, go for healthy ways of cooking like roasting, boiling, grilling, steaming etc.

Big no to ‘fast’ food: Avoid packaged fast food like potato chips (which is the main intake, especially in Navratri) and opt for healthier options.

Health first: However religious, not everyone should fast. Diabetes, hyperacidity or GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease) patients, pregnant women and children should give fasts a miss.

Quantity matters: Do not go crazy over the feasts prepared for the festival. It is an irony that people tend to overeat in the name of fasts!

Do not starve: Fasts should not deprive the body of energy. Prolonged fasts lead to problems like weakness, anemia, acidity, fatigue and headaches.

This Navratri, follow these tips and do not let the weighing scales tip to the wrong side!

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Some easy tips on safe exercise to prevent injury and stay fit 

No matter what the age or fitness level, in order to stay healthy and avoid diseases, the best way is indeed ‘Exercises’. However, exercising is not a bed of roses. Some exercises can cause damage to bones, muscles and surrounding tissues, making it more likely that you will injure yourself or worsen a pre-existing injury or medical condition. But, the benefits of staying active far outweigh the risks. So, it’s important to know how to keep yourself safe and avoid potential problems before they happen. The following safety tips would do exactly that!

    • Undergo a medical check-up before you begin especially if you have a medical condition, are overweight, or over 40 years or haven’t exercised regularly for a long time.
    • Wear appropriate outfits, shoes and protective gear, if needed
    • Start out slowly, gradually increasing the duration and intensity of your workouts
    • Always warm up and stretch before exercising. Cold muscles are more likely to get injured, so warm up with some light exercise for at least three to five minutes
    • Pay attention to your form and technique, making sure you’re using the machines and positions correctly
    • Seek instruction for your chosen activity. You may also get a regime designed by a coach
    • Protect your skin from ultraviolet radiation and sun damage
    • Get enough hydration. Drink plenty of water before, during and after the exercise sessions
    • Avoid exercise when in pain or fatigued. Taking a day off is perfectly fine, don’t be a warrior!
    • Don’t exercise if you’ve been drinking alcohol or have taken other drugs that may affect your physical or mental state
    • Listen to your body, know your physical limits and workout accordingly
    • Stop exercise immediately if you are injured and seek medical advice before starting it again
    • Take lessons from your doctor, physiotherapist, exercise physiologist or sports physician to be safer the time you restart!

It’s just a matter of using some common sense, understanding basic techniques and listening to your body. If the exercise is safe and painless, you’re more likely to stick to it! So, make a smart move, roll up your sleeves, get out there and start sweating!

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Taking cue from the mobile number portability, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) has allowed policyholders to change their existing insurer and still carry forward the benefits of the old insurance. This means one need not stick to the current insurance provider and can shop around for cheaper plans and better services. The move came as a huge sigh of relief for the unhappy policyholders. The portability will apply to General and Life Insurance Companies.

The conditions state that all insurers will have to acknowledge a request to port the health insurance policy within three working days and make data on claim details available to the counterpart within seven working days.


• WAITING PERIOD FOR PRE-EXISTING DISEASES: The major factor that was preventing customers from transferring their health insurance policies to another company was the possibility of losing continuity of benefits such as cover for pre-existing diseases or illnesses. IRDA has ensured that insurers allow policyholders to transfer the credit in terms of waiting period for pre-existing illness and bonus sum insured from one insurer to another.

• INSURANCE AMOUNT: The accepting insurer shall provide cover, at least up to the sum assured in the previous insurance policy. Also, the sum insured that is carried forward will include the no-claim bonus that the previous insurer would have given.

• INITIAL WAIT TIME: The initial waiting period of around 30 days, which most insurers have, will also be waived off in case a customer decides to port policy. This makes the wait period a onetime affair.• LOCATION: The policyholders who shift from one country to another will also be benefitted due to this portability. Previously, they were put to disadvantage due to lack of their insurers’ offices at new locations. Now, they can simply shift to the insurer whose office is available at the location one is being transferred.


• FEATURES CANNOT BE TRANSFERRED: One cannot carry forward the features of the previous insurer, but only the credits on waiting period on pre-existing ailments.

• LACK OF CLARITY: There is not enough clarity on various issues like whether portability is possible between policies offered by life and non-life companies or indemnity policy.

• GROUP COVERS: There is no wait-time for group covers. Also, group insurance policies do not underwrite the individual but the organization as a whole; it will be difficult to port credits from group insurance policies to individual policies.

• PREMIUMS MAY REMAIN UNCHANGED: There is rise in claims, higher demand for health covers and medical inflation. So it may be very difficult on the part of the insurers to decrease the price of the policies: portability or no portability.

The move, however, ensures customer satisfaction, better services and product variations. It will also lead to competition among the insurance providers that can benefit the policyholders in the end. The directive to insurance companies to provide all records and claims history of the customer to the new insurance company will bring in more transparency. Critics, on the other hand believe that in the absence of standardization of products in India, the switching of insurers can lead to misunderstandings, frauds and misuses.

The portability is expected to increase the number of people to opt for health insurance. Only 2% of Indians currently have it, which constitutes only 20% of the overall insurance business. This is too low by the world standards. While the health insurance claims in India are extremely high as compared to other countries.

Currently, IRDA allows portability of motor insurance policies. For successful implementation of the health insurance portability, we still need to find an effective data sharing mechanism. IRDA has directed insurance companies to mention in the prospectus and sales literature that all health insurance policies are portable.

The main players in the health insurance industry viz. Star Health & Allied Insurance, Apollo MUNICH and Max BUPA, along with number of other players like National Insurance Company, United India, Oriental Insurance and ICICI Lombard are active in the field.

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Give us a little information about the activities you and your organization are into.
Going down the memory lane, in 1993, National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) of the Indian Government conducted a study in different cities of India. The target groups were the high risk behavior groups who are likely to be infected by HIV, like the sex workers, homosexuals, slum population, migrants or eunuchs. I was the coordinator for that study in Gujarat. This was my first effort to understand HIV as well as AIDS sociologically. It was then that I worked with these groups in Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Vadodara, Surat and Dadra & Nagar Haveli. We realized that it was very important to work on this issue in Gujarat.

One of the objectives of that study was to find NGOs who would be interested to work for this issue in the future. Then, it was only Jyotisangh, founded by Mahatma Gandhi in 1934, the NGO that works for women, that was interested in working for HIV/AIDS. I supported this NGO as a technical consultant and now, the entire project is handed over to the women sex workers. This is called CBO – Community based organization.

What inspired you to work for such a sensitive issue?
The first inspiration is my subject – I teach Sociology. I have witnessed that there are a lot of groups that are never included in our course of study like the sex workers, homosexuals or the eunuchs. So the thought of imparting awareness about these groups to people always troubled me. Also my family background was such that I was always told to be good to common and marginalized people, understand their problems and talk to them.

What were the challenges and reactions you had to face when you started working on the issue?
When I joined Jyotisangh, the biggest challenge was the NGO’s negative attitude towards the sex workers. It considered this work a social evil. So the first step was to change its leadership behavior.

Another challenge was to face the fraternity of the teachers here at the University. They ridiculed working with this group of sex workers and at times, even doubted me!
Lastly, there was no history of people working with the sex workers in Gujarat. So even we had little knowledge and had to grow on our own.(Cont. from page- 1)
There are many notions that prevail in the society, the very first being HIV and AIDS are the same.

What are the other such perceptions?
Yes, right! The biggest perception is that HIV and AIDS are the same. HIV is actually a virus, through which a disease called AIDS spreads and that too after a span of 6-8 years. Due to this notion, people treat a HIV Positive person as a patient of AIDS and do not allow him/her to be a part of the society. Secondly around 86% of the people suffering from HIV in India have got the virus due to unprotected sex. But due to no scientific knowledge about HIV among the people, an HIV Positive patient is considered characterless and the entire issue is linked to our moral values.

A third important problem is that the HIV patients are not allowed to continue their social relationships. HIV spreads only through 4 main reasons: unprotected sex, virus from mother to the child, through infected injections or intake of such drugs. But people have the notions that HIV spreads by being with an infected person or the virus spreads from the air. They also believe that at times needles are pierced into, just to increase the members of the AIDS community!

What can be done to change these perceptions?
I very firmly believe that the first step to change these perceptions is to impart sex education. At present it is banned in Gujarat. If we’ll consider sex education as a taboo, it won’t be possible for the next generation to understand the concept of HIV scientifically and the misconceptions among them will increase.

Secondly, the talk about HIV should not be limited to just World AIDS Awareness Day but throughout the year, we need to work on the issue.

Thirdly, it is very easy to avoid getting infected from HIV. But the problem is that we try to see the virus as a medical issue and not a social one. There is a simple A-B-C-D formula to fight HIV. ‘A’ is avoiding sex, but this may not be possible for all. So then comes ‘B’ which says be faithful to your partner. Again if this is not possible, try ‘C’ that is use of condoms. And if A-B-C is not followed, then ‘D’ is for death.

What is the current status of AIDS patients in Gujarat/India?
Until now, Gujarat was considered to be a low prevalence state, which means that less than 1% of the total population was affected by HIV. But recently a report of NACO revealed that Gujarat has entered the middle prevalence states’ list as per the data of 2009. However, the overall number of HIV Positive people in India has decreased but in Gujarat the spread of HIV has reached around more than 1.50%, which is much above the national average of 0.30%.

People consider HIV as well as AIDS to be very dangerous. Is this right? If not, what should be done to consider these like other diseases?
The biggest problem is that we haven’t achieved any breakthrough for HIV yet, there is no vaccine available. So, when medical science cannot progress in any disease, its fear among the people rises. But, the fact that people don’t understand is that the HIV Positive people whose CD4 count is less than 200 are called AIDS patients. Now, if the patient takes ART –Anti Retroviral Therapy, his/her immunity to fight the diseases is maintained and the life span increases. But this awareness is lacking and HIV/AIDS lead to death is a very strong belief.

What types of programs are conducted by different organizations that work for this issue? What is their impact?
The first huge program is that of the Government that is called TI – Targeted Intervention. These projects target the groups who are most likely to get infected by HIV. TI identifies them, makes them aware regarding HIV & AIDS and this group then takes the project further.

Another type of organization is run by the HIV Positives themselves. Their network is called Gujarat State Network of Positive People (GSNP+).And the third type is the CBO – Community Based Organizations.

And there is a huge impact of such organizations in Gujarat over the last 10-12 years. First impact is that these marginalized groups were able to enter the main stream population of the society. Secondly female sex workers have started explaining their clients about HIV that may lead to AIDS and this has helped to generate a lot of awareness. Thirdly, people have started demanding safe blood as this disease spreads through blood too.

What are the common problems faced by the AIDS patients?
The first being the psychological problem; as soon as you know that you are infected with HIV, you start feeling that now there is no future. This type of hopelessness and helplessness shatters them.

Second problem is that the society does not accept them and there is no one to turn to when you find out that you are Positive.
The third is the monetary issue. Just recently, Government started giving the ART drugs free of cost at the Government hospitals. But apart from the medicines, the cost of eating healthy food due to which the immune system would stay fit is very high.

What are the efforts on the part of the Government?
I believe that the Government of Gujarat and that of India has taken this issue very positively. There are 5 year plans for this issue and the current policies will end in 2012. It includes free medicines for the HIV patients, education for their kids, and concessions for travel as the patients need to go to the hospitals frequently etc. the Government also supports the Network of Positive People and gives a lot of autonomy to the NGOs.

Your message to the society.
Let us develop a scientific temper for HIV. This will increase our knowledge for the subject, which in turn will lead to sympathy. Also, I will again insist that the new generation of Gujarat should be imparted sex education and the ban should be lifted immediately.
(Dr. Gaurang Jani, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Gujarat University)

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